Manufacturers are taking note of the rapid clip of innovation in their sector. Further, evolving consumer expectations, technology advancements, and an increase in connected devices drive change. Invariably, we have seen the widespread impact manufacturing digital transformation has on their customers, suppliers, businesses, and third parties.
To survive and thrive in the digital era, it is crucial to employ digital transformation organization-wide. According to the IDC, over half of all manufacturers will invest in artificial intelligence technologies to bolster resiliency and drive productivity.
What Does Digital Transformation Look Like in Manufacturing Today?
The 2020s will continue to evoke a series of technological disruptors in this sector, from AI to IoT, aligning with the rapid expansion of 5G, machine learning, predictive analytics, and Industry 4.0. Moreover, volatility in global, economic, and policy decisions means manufacturers must keep an agile and scalable infrastructure.
Yet, the main drivers for effective change management are customer expectations. Concerning digital transformation initiatives, transparency, manufacturing eCommerce integrated with CRM and ERP platforms are vital.
Challenges of Digital Transformation in Manufacturing
Naturally, a few obstacles are standing in the way of meaningful and long-term digital transformation within manufacturing. These challenges include:
- Getting upper management support
- Disagreements around business and human resources
- Outdated legacy and disparate systems
However, starting the discussion about improving operational efficiencies and resource utilization is an essential launching point.
Undoubtedly, digital transformation initiatives can place increasing demands on an already-burdened IT department, infrastructure, and tech stack. Also, manufacturing digitalization may incur additional human resources costs and face employee reluctance to change–which is expected.
Since manufacturing is dynamic and cash-sensitive, it’s critical to address limitations around budgets and resources. Change management, education, and training is the key to ensuring long-term benefits across the organizations.
Transform your manufacturing business with eCommerce
Embarking on a digital transformation journey takes a combination of human and digital components to overcome challenges. Many digital transformation consultants can guide manufacturers throughout the process and realize life-changing results.
Examples of Digital Transformation in Manufacturing
In manufacturing, digital transformation is more than automating the assembly line. In contrast, it requires a change in approach, perspective, and problem-solving. Considering the following ways manufacturers digitalized and transformed their organizations:
Saltworks, a prominent salt manufacturer and distributor in the US, implemented a unified B2B solution for their B2B and B2C operations. In another significant example, the NIST found that GE used machine learning to increase production capacity by 20% while simultaneously decreasing consumption rates by 4%. Without hiring a single employee, one California-based fruit supplier increased production by 50% using an automated system with features such as extensive data reporting, history analysis, and alarm notifications.
In addition, Tetra Pak used Microsoft Azure to access real-time data for accurate predictions around maintenance needs for dairy processing equipment. Unquestionably, wearables with inefficient data processing capabilities will lead to staffing inefficiencies. However, Honeywell partnered with Intel to create a Connected Worker Proof of Concept merging sensor data with worker-work devices.
Top 5 Digital Transformation Trends in Manufacturing
1. Industry 4.0
Also known as “the fourth industrial revolution,” Industry 4.0 aims to automate and manage processes in real-time. For instance, a machine with a sensor that interacts with another sensor-based machine by sharing data. All of this can happen without human intervention. In fact, Industry 4.0 will blur the line between physical and virtual warehouses while freeing up human resources to focus on more strategic and forward-thinking initiatives.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a fast-growing space of interconnected devices streaming data about their environment through the Internet. The most prominent IoT uses cases are found in operations, asset management, and personnel management. To illustrate, manufacturers can use real-time monitoring to establish preventative maintenance programs, improve energy efficiency, enhance worker productivity, augment risk management, and use intelligent air management to improve working conditions.
3. Machine learning
There aren’t enough human resources in the age of big data to effectively sort and filter the data to derive meaningful insights. So, machine learning can help by utilizing algorithms to ensure better decision-making based on data. Machine learning can also identify and predict factors that impact assembly line speed or quality.
Some examples include using machine learning to help with employee processes, predicting waiting times, shipping times, or behavior models for risk prevention. Further, machine learning can integrate insights throughout the production process and supply chain.
Big data will continue to increase simultaneously with the number of connected devices worldwide. As a result, robots will continue to help manufacturers innovate in autonomous driving, dexterous carrying, transport, and more.
5. B2B eCommerce
B2b customers tend to mirror B2C buyers. Therefore, B2B eCommerce platforms must respond to customer needs just as quickly. Retaining a B2C-like experience isn’t easy in terms of product data personalization, checkout workflows, pricing rules, and other complex background functions. Yet, manufacturers like Saltworks and Samuel Hubbard have produced successful case studies using OroCommerce to create a single website for segmentation and a multichannel experience.
Besides delivering the right product to customers at the right time, B2B eCommerce platforms can automatically sync data with ERP and WMS platforms to reduce human error and manage inventory more efficiently. Moreover, B2B eCommerce solutions give manufacturers better control over B2B2C without disrupting any existing channels.
Benefits of Digital Transformation in Manufacturing
Manufacturers face a crossroad: Embark on digital transformation or stick to the tried-and-true? However, digital transformation offers many long-term benefits, including features to:
Promote data accuracy and access. Integrate data between B2B eCommerce, ERP, CRM, finance, warehousing systems, and more.
Improve processes. Use real-time insights to prevent disruptions, optimize operations, predict situations, and enhance machinery lifecycles.
Accelerate innovation. Utilize smart factory capabilities within your ERP system to improve supply chain management and business performance.
Access smarter outsourcing. Eliminate risks and prevent disruption with remote monitoring, proactive maintenance, big data, and troubleshooting.
Enhance the customer experience. Launch a B2B eCommerce platform with separate channels based on client, region, or brand. Access real-time sales data to accurately predict customer demand and align with production positioning.
How to Prepare for Digital Transformation in Manufacturing
Technological innovation and evolving consumer demands are here to stay. Since suppliers and distributors have grown accustomed to Industry 4.0, IoT, and machine learning, they expect the same technological output from manufacturers. To manage expectations, manufacturers should prioritize innovation using digital transformation. Need help? Fortunately, we have a four-part blog series detailing the topic.
How can Oro support your digital transformation?
Attracting tech-savvy customers, growing profitability, and effectively managing quotations, contracts, and ordering requires complex and task-specific processes. Thankfully, Oro, Inc. is perfectly positioned to help businesses harness the power of digital technology.
Oro’s CRM, integrated with OroCommerce, offers manufacturers a unified view of B2C, B2B, sales, and customer data. As a result, you achieve more excellent resistance to market forces, increased agility, and the capacity to seize new opportunities.
Furthermore, Oro’s smooth synchronization with ERP, PIM and eProcurement systems gives you a single source of truth for business processes. With connected systems, manufacturers can better work towards a common goal and offer omni-channel experiences.
Lastly, Oro offers a time-tested platform with an ecosystem of developers, worldwide technology partners, and solution integrators. This means you get the right solution addressing even the most complicated B2B eCommerce challenges. Oro partners are focused on achieving client success and ensuring quantifiable ROI from their technologies.
Your digital transformation strategy should align with current market demands. Yet, it would help if you did not view digital transformation as a single solution for one area of manufacturing. Instead, using a detailed digital transformation roadmap is the starting point of an ongoing process for securing a consistent competitive advantage.